Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Exits Well
One of the true jewels of television is airing its final season on the CW. The fact that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has managed to survive to a fourth season is remarkable. It’s ratings have been microscopic, even for the network that airs it, and I doubt even one of the lesser cable or streaming services would be willing to keep it on the air with the numbers it does have. Which is a great tragedy, considering that this series is likely one of the great series of the past decade, certainly one of the most unique.
Rebecca Bunch has been on a hell of a journey, one that even the most advanced cable series probably wouldn’t have dared take their lead on. Starting out as a more than slightly delusional twenty-ish New Yorker who relocated to West Covina to chase her ex-boyfriend, she has finally been effectively diagnosed with a borderline personality. And after three seasons of talking in terms of destiny and irresponsibility, she finally seems to be on the right path. Of course, this being Crazy, that path led to her spending a few weeks in prison for a crime she wasn’t responsible for, and has now become infamous as ‘The Rooftop Killer’. But now, Rebecca finally seems to be the woman she appeared to be in the first few episodes — a good person following her heart.
Never was this more clear in last week’s episode, where she faced the exact same situation she was at in the Pilot. Offered a partnership in her law firm, she used the exact same dialogue and behavior to walk out of her firm, and go into the lobby to work at a pretzel cafe. And being Rebecca, she immediately screwed that up, wrecking the franchise for a colleague of hers. Then, she decided to stop being an attorney and open a pretzel company. But when Paula, whose been really supportive of her, said it was a destiny, Rebecca responded: “I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t think I ever did. I just don’t think the law is right for me.” This is a decision she couldn’t have come to even a few episodes ago, and reveals a level of evolution that you’d be hard pressed to find on any TV show.
And it’s not just Rebecca who’s evolving. Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), who has never seemed particularly worthy of Rebecca’s love, and has always seemed incredibly dim-witted, in the season premiere, finally decided to go into therapy himself. (Ironically, its the husband of Rebecca’s therapist.) He’s actually making some progress on himself as a person, which I never would have happened. Of course, he’s still a little slow on the uptake (when he goes a disastrous date, he doesn’t realize that Uber has to call before getting the cab there) but its definitely there.
Every other character is showing signs of growth as well. Heather, Rebecca’s best friend, has finally admitted that she is capable of love, and has decided to get married. Of course, first she agreed to marry her boyfriend just for insurance purposes, but still…. Darryl, now a father again, is beginning to realize he doesn’t need a mother for his new child. Even Nathaniel has finally decided, after nearly two seasons of gruff menacing, that actually is a human being, that he loves Rebecca.
All of this is fine stuff in its own right, but as those few but faithful who have watched Crazy from the inception know, the series is also a brilliant musical, with all the songs written by Rachel Bloom. And if nothing else, she continues to put up some of the most brilliant satiric numbers in the history of… honestly, there’s no precedent for this anywhere. Last week, she gave a ‘Fresh Prince style rap song’ called ‘Don’t Be A Lawyer’ to a fringe character, which is the funniest argument for not going to law school, and ended with a perfect self-aware joke that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling. Then, after spending the entire episode ranting at the pretzels, two pretzels became Muppetized and began singing a Simon and Garfunkel type parody, involving every pretzel reference you can imagine. Even the opening theme has become a self-satire on where Rebecca is. Now it’s a parody of seventies-TV shows theme music, starting with introducing us to the wrong Rebecca, and telling us basically every screwed up thing Rebecca’s ever done, before going back to the ‘other’ Rebecca, who punctures that joke. (“I live in this park!” she said last week.)
I’ve said it countless times before, and will say it one final time — Rachel Bloom is arguably the greatest discovery to come out of TV and music in the last few years, and its a travesty of the Emmys that they refuse to nominate her or her show for anything other than technical awards. (Granted, Bloom’s picked up a couple of trophies this way as a result, but still!) I still don’t know whether this series or Jane the Virgin (the other brilliant, underrecognized CW series coming to an end this season) will go down in history as the CW greatest triumph. What I do know is that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been one of the most joyful and remarkable experience I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching TV. I’m sorry its ending, but I’m glad it’ lasted long enough for Bloom to give it the proper farewell it deserved.
� �My score: 5 stars.